NANCY MARTINSEN: So good evening and thank you for attending. I am excited to share the space and time with you this evening. My name is Nancy Martinsen and I am the Kent G. Sheng, class of 78, Associate Dean of Students and Director of the Asian and Asian American Center.
I would like to begin by acknowledging the indigenous peoples of all the lands that we're on today. While we are gathering this evening on a virtual platform, I want to take a moment to acknowledge the importance of the lands we each call home. Whether you are here in Ithaca or elsewhere. The Cornell University is located on the traditional homelands of the Gayogohóno', the Cayuga Nation. The Gayogohóno' are members of the Haudenosaunee Confederacy, an alliance of six sovereign nations with the historic and contemporary presence on this land. The Confederacy precedes the establishment of Cornell University, New York State, and the United States of America. We are grateful for the ability to organize here and wish to extend our respect to the people and elders of the Cayuga Nation. We acknowledge the painful history of the Gayogohóno' dispossession and honor the ongoing connection of the Gayogohóno' people, past, and present to these lands and waters and we reaffirm our commitment to improving our own understanding of local indigenous peoples and their cultures.
Tonight is an exciting night. I've been at Cornell a little over two years and this is my second Perkins Prize. In 2019, I recall getting dressed up and going to the Memorial Room. Although this format is slightly different from the previous 25 years, the spirit of this event remains significant. I am elated to be part of a program that recognizes the wonderful contributions of the winners and nominees' engagement that sought to bring communities and people together to promote peace, harmony and advanced diversity and inclusion efforts. I would like to introduce President Pollack, who was not able to join us in person tonight, but would like to share a message. Martha E. Pollack is the 14th President of Cornell University and Professor of Computer Science, Information Science and Linguistics. She took office on April 17th, 2017, President Pollock earned a bachelor's degree in linguistics at Dartmouth College and an MS and PhD in computer science and information science at the University of Pennsylvania. She was previously Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Michigan. She was also a professor of computer science and information. We are now going to play President Pollack's pre-recorded message to welcome everyone.
MARTHA E. POLLACK: I don't need to remind anyone that it has now been over a full year that we've been dealing with this pandemic. A year ago in March when we closed our campus and sent our students home, as difficult and stressful as that was, most of us hope certainly I hoped that it wouldn't be too long before things pretty much got back to normal. But the months since then have been an emotional roller coaster in so many ways. Against the background of the pandemic, the burdens of which have fallen so unevenly on communities of color. We've experienced a year of upheaval from the horrific murder of George Floyd through a summer of protests for racial justice to the increase and anti-Asian violence and everything that came before and after. And here we are over a year later still meeting on Zoom. But we are also still moving forward our Cornell mission, whether physically or virtually, we're all part of a campus that is now in its second semester of successful in-person instruction. And we are all part of a community that despite many, many challenges, advancing its mission of teaching, engagement and research, and advancing our founding vision of being an institution for any person and any study.
Yes, Cornell's commitment to diversity and inclusion goes back to our very beginning. But we must always refresh that commitment. And the ways in which we pursue it must always be evolving. For example, in response to the racialized violence and policing, that again, garnered national attention this year, we convened a public safety advisory committee whose members include a broad range of stakeholders. Its goal is to re-imagine not just policing the way we approach public safety and security more generally on campus. The committee has been working diligently and engaging with the broad Cornell community as they develop a detailed set of recommendations to be submitted later this spring. And our faculty are deeply engaged in the creation of an anti-racism initiative, including a proposed center for racial justice and equitable futures that will bring together scholars from various fields to engage in rigorous interdisciplinary research and scholarship that's aimed at advancing our understanding of the structural and systemic character, a forms of racialization that have emerged out of our history.
And our new equity training workshops launch this semester, offer Cornell community members ways to learn about key issues such as allyship, inclusion, advocacy, and anti-racism. In a format that includes both broad overviews and the development of useful skills. We know that we are just one university in a huge country and there are limits to the impact we can achieve just at Cornell. We know that there need also to be much larger efforts across our society to move forward as a nation. But I believe deeply in the importance of what we're doing here at Cornell through the work of our students, faculty, staff, and alumni. To quote the ancient Jewish scholar Rabbi Tarfon in a different context, "You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it." I want to thank all of our students' organizations and all members of our community who are so committed to the work in enhancing equity and inclusion at Cornell. And I especially want to thank the emeritus trustee, Thomas W. Jones, class of 69, for establishing the Perkins Prize and for his continued commitment to recognizing the ongoing efforts of the Cornell community to create greater integrational understanding and harmony. Congratulations to the Perkins Prize winners and thank you all for being a part of this work, and this event.
NANCY MARTINSEN: A big thank you to President colleague for that wonderful message. Next, I would like to introduce Marla Love, the Robert W and Elizabeth C. Staley interim Dean of Students. Prior to Cornell, Marla worked at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California, where she served as the Director of Graduate and Professional Student Affairs. Prior to her time at APU, she served as the Assistant Dean of Students at Scripps College, where she held broad oversight on a number of social justice programs, crisis management operations, and Title IX, responsibilities. Marla love.
MARLA LOVE: Thanks Nancy. Appreciate that introduction. Good evening and welcome again to the annual ceremony to award the James A. Perkins Prize for interracial, intercultural, peace and harmony. And the second annual student in campus life diversity and inclusion awards. We had to take a break last year because of the pandemic, but we're so excited that there were so many nominations and folks were willing to recognize members of their community for the good work that they've done in the last year. As Nancy mentioned, I'm the Robert W, and Elizabeth C. Staley Interim Dean of Students. And this is an exciting time to kick off the award ceremony tonight. First, I want to thank and honor those who have contributed to this ceremony. The planning committee which planned the program and organized the logistics of this event. Thinking about how we might deliver this program virtually. So the selection committee or the judges who read 40 strong applications submitted from across campus, all of which met the criteria in different ways. The work of the judges to discern the best of the best is ever important.
And I want to especially join in thanks to Tom Jones for creating the Perkins Prize in honor of President James Perkins, for his years as a student leader and as a trustee, and for his ongoing support of Cornell University. And for setting us on a vision of thinking about how we joined together to build stronger communities. The Perkins Prize epitomizes the value that Cornell University should not only invite individuals from a variety of backgrounds, but it should also welcome those individuals. We must create a sense of belonging, and we do that by joining together. The concept of belonging transcends identity. It really gets down to the human experience of what can drive a vibrant, happy, and ultimately a transformative college experience. Since the 1960s, there has been a huge effort to diversify the collegiate student body. And especially in the last 16 years at the Ivy's, you seen a dramatic change in our compositional diversity. International students to domestic students of color, to first-year college students, to women in stem majors, to Pell eligible students. Cornell students exemplify, what it means to be a leading institution in a cosmopolitan society. But that's not enough. The task ahead of us is to harness the opportunity we have, we have with this compositional diversity to really dig into relationships, to making space, to be creating an equitable environment. The world outside of Cornell shows us that when we harness the diversity of a working team and really bring all voices to the table in a lab or on a corporate sales team, or an innovation group in an engineering firm, you end up with better outcomes. A better work product, a better set of ideas, better research and design. And I think it's the same thing for us as a college campus. I'm so appreciative of the work that Cornell is, is doing to advance our efforts to be a more equitable and inclusive institution. And President Pollock talked about some of those efforts. And tonight we'll really dig into some of the efforts that students have contributed to this campus community to continue to push us forward, to continue to think about ways that we can bring more equity and inclusion to our campus. As we all work together to push for all students to have a sense of belonging. It only, it only benefits our community and grows our community. When people feel that they belong in a community, all good kinds of things happen. Their resilience goes up, which allows them to overcome obstacles. Their ability to advocate for themselves goes up because they feel it, they have a voice. And our ability to take healthy risks and make friends and take risks across difference goes up. So that we have more intergroup contact. So tonight, I get to start off by talking to you a little bit about the winners of the Student and Campus Life diversity and inclusion awards. As a leader in the division of Student and Campus Life, I'm energized by the contributions of countless student organizations and leaders will lead programs that demonstrate that we are a better campus when we are invested in constructing an inclusive campus environment. The nominees for the Diversity and Inclusion awards are attentive to developing an uplifting SCL's diversity and inclusion values. The winners and nominees have contributed to advocating for various student populations, engaging with staff, faculty, and the local community to promote a more inclusive Cornell. It's in this spirit that we honor organizations and student leader that continue the legacy of an equitable and inclusive community at Cornell within the student, with the student and campus life diversity and inclusion awards. Student or students organizations we will recognize have shown through actions and programs that they are invested in the how the co-curricular environment and how the co-curricular environment they desire can be fulfilled through leadership and programming for themselves and for their peers. I continue to be appreciative of the continued support of the support the Office of the Dean of Students has received from our leadership to continue to move these efforts forward. As we all work together, Cornell will change and allow all students to have a sense of belonging which will, which will benefit this community. With that, it's my pleasure to tell you more about the winners of the Student and Campus Life diversity and inclusion awards. First, I'd like to start with the Quiet Influence Award. This award is presented to an undergraduate student or a student organization who significant effort in the area of diversity inclusion, whose contributed, sorry, has significant effort in the area of diversity inclusion is shown by building up an influencing others. This individual or group engages in this work, oftentimes under the radar, showing a commitment to listening, influencing, and or winning others over to make noticeable contributions to the campus community. And the winner is the translator interpreter program. And I'd like to tell you a bit more about this, there's this organization. The Translator Interpreter Program, is a student run program of the publics public service center that trains multilingual students to serve as volunteer translators interpreters for community agencies and academic departments in emergency and non-emergency situation, situations. This past year alone,TIP volunteers served our community by interpreting for domestic violence and homeless shelters, bringing language barriers between K12 students, families and teachers, and translating critical information about human trafficking and public health resources. Congratulations, TIP. Here's a short video from this group.
PEARL NGAI: Hello everyone, and thank you very much to the office of Student and Campus Life for this Quiet Influence Award. Our group, the translator interpreter Program, or TIP, is a student run program of the Cornell public service center. We train bilingual and multilingual Cornell students to serve as volunteer translators and interpreters for community agencies and departments in both emergency and non-emergency situations.
VIVIAN HUANG: The translator interpreter program, like most, has had a challenging year. To adapt to the pandemic. We have shifted our entire Volunteer Training and Certification classes to online in order for our volunteers to continue to provide interpretation services. We've trained our volunteers to interpret, over zoom. Despite these challenges and countless others, our volunteers and board members have stepped up to provide critical services in times of some of our communities' most dire need.
JORDINE WILLIAMS: We've provided translation for the user guide for COVID 19 to source applications for the disaster tech in Washington, DC. We translated vaccine information from the Tompkins County Health Department into ten different languages. They've also provided translation for NYS sea grant summit, as well as interpretation for the Cornell interventionist.
COLE HORVATH: And although most of this service is seen as propelling the missions of agencies we work with. They simultaneously and quietly act to forward our mission of promoting language access and racial equity. But even for quiet influence like our program, we appreciate the recognition bestowed upon us by this award. Thank you.
MARLA LOVE: Thank you too, and congratulations again for as winners of the Quiet Influence Award. Next up is the Student Organization of the Year Award. The student organization of the year recognizes the group that has successfully demonstrated a commitment to diversity inclusion, exemplifying their overall mission and purpose through campus engagement that made a lasting impact on the campus community. This year, we did not receive any nominations for any for graduate and professional organizations. So we will only be recognizing one undergraduate organization. And the winner is Cornell Asian-Pacific Student Union, also known as CAPSU. CAPSU adapted to the virtual programming requirements of the pandemic. And were able to plan and host many different types of events, all focused around engaging students from diverse backgrounds in frank and honest conversations about race, class, and gender identity and pride in diversity and representation. In response to a summer and long history of racial injustice and police brutality against black Americans, CAPSU host, co-hosted a series of events titled CAPSU conversations anti-blackness in the APIDA community. These events were co-hosted in collaboration with Black and Asian American Cornell student activists from the Student Organization, Cornell students 4 Black Lives. In response to recent incidents of anti-Asian racism and violence, CAPSU has been very intentional and providing support for students in healing from and processing community trauma. Congratulations. And here's a short video from this group.
VARIOUS: Hi everyone. We're CAPSU, Cornell's Asian-Pacific Student Union. We are an umbrella organization for all Asian and Asian interest groups on Cornell's campus. We hope to create programming that brings together the Asian and Asian American community and the greater Cornell community.
New to CAPSU this school year are CAPSU conversations. These monthly discussions opportunities for CAPSU, the Cornell community to discuss culturally prevalent topics such as mental health in the Asian, Pacific Islander, Desi American community, diversity and inclusion in the workplace, anti-Asianism and anti-Blackness. CAPSU conversations are safe spaces for all within the APIDA community to share our experiences and opinions in order to enhance our voices and make change.
This year, we were fortunate to bring in fantastic speakers through leaders in Asian American Arts such as Asian Boss Girl, Justin H. Min from Netflix's Umbrella Academy. Simu Liu who is going to be Marvel's first Asian American superhero with his own film and singers and performers such as Hayley Kiyoko and Eric Nam. We were able to discuss with them the importance of Asian-American representation and leadership in media and the arts, as well as open dialogue about the intersection between feminism, masculinity, and the queer community. We implemented a year-long mentorship program during the 2020 to 2021 school year called the Ambassador program. And ultimately it is a platform for Asian, Asian-American students to become leaders in their respective communities. Our ten ambassadors have done amazing work such as shadowing and especially meeting our executive board members creating a social media campaign celebrating CAPSU sub organizations and hosting a panel events supporting Asian businesses in Ithaca. This year we decided to program an extended Asia Night called Staycation with CAPSU featuring a QR scavenger hunt around campus, a trivia night, a performance competition that involve multiple culture and performance sub orgs, as well as two speaker events all centered around a retro travel theme. Over 100 students participated in our weekend long events and we awarded them with goody bags, additional funding as well, album raffles. Thank you everyone for this award. We hope to continue to create programming that can bring our communities on campus together.
MARLA LOVE: Thanks CAPSU and congratulations again on winning Student Organization of the Year Award.
Our last award of the evening--or, not of the evening, but the last award, our final Student and Campus Life Diversity and Inclusion Award, is awarded for transformational leadership. This award is bestowed upon an undergraduate who has established a legacy of transformative leadership that contributed to an inclusive environment for underrepresented and marginalized community. This year's award recipient is Naiara Bezerra-Gastesi. Naiara has helped held leadership roles as co-president of HAVEN the LG-- LGBTQ plus student union. President of consent ed and the president of the Sexual Violence Prevention Network, QVPN. A perfect example of their intentionality to include queer voices in this critical topic can be seen in the list of events that have happened in April for sexual assault awareness month this year. Queer survivor space, bisexual survivor space, and a discussion with Amita Swadhin queer femme of color. Naiara has worked to develop, facilitate, and evaluate queer sexual wellness programming. In collaboration with professional staff and student staff Naiara has helped lead the charge to create the Queer Sexual Wellness and Resiliency Education Program. Or QSWARE at the LGBT Resource Center. Congratulations. And here's a short video from Naiara.
NAIARA BEZERRA-GASTESI: Hello, my name is Naiara. I study history and gender studies, and I am honored to receive the transformational leader award today. It is an honor for my work and my E Board's work to be recognized. Thank you, Christopher Lujan for nominating me and for the rest of the board for its time and consideration. I have been co-president of Haven with Alicia Chen, the president of the Sexual Violence Prevention network and Consent Ed. And I have been involved as an intern in the LGBT Resource Center all in this last year. My work at Cornell has primarily focused on LGBTQ plus community building and sexual violence prevention. As queer students are disproportionately affected by sexual violence on campus. I took my leadership opportunities and made sure that queer communities, were talking about sexual violence and sexual violence prevention educators included and focused on queer communities. Clearly, when I became president, I was not aware that I would have to be a student leader through a pandemic. Throughout my time though, I've learned that accessibility and collaboration are the main pillars of my leadership style. In my e boards, we had conversations about students' capacity to involve themselves in extra curricular activities. Additionally, collaboration made sure that people had support networks and the events reached broad swaths of people. The Sexual Violence Prevention Network was a new organization on campus this year. And we put on a month of events called sexual assault awareness month. Throughout this month, we put on inclusive sex ed, a queer survivor space and a conversation about queer sexual violence and prison systems and more. My E board and I are proud of all the survivors who showed up to spaces and excited to continue to fighting for queer specific sexual violence prevention on campus. Through my internship at the LGBT Resource Center, I've been given the opportunity to create the queer Bystander Intervention module of our queer sexual wellness and Resilience Education Program. And I am excited to make sure the allies and LGBTQ plus community members feel equipped and comfortable to step in at anytime. Next, I'm going to be a campus educator for the Advocacy Center here in Ithaca. Thank you so much again.
MARLA LOVE: Congratulations again, Naiara on winning the Transformational Leadership Award. Let's give a final round of applause, virtual applause for our inaugural SCL Diversity and Inclusion Award winners. Thank you all for your contributions to our campus community.
NANCY MARTINSEN: Yes. Thank you Dean Love and congratulations to all the SCL Award winners one more time from your living room or wherever you are. Yes translator interpreter program! I see you CAPSU! What, what Naiara! Yes! To everything! Our students are so impressive and so much so, that I'm going to actually show you a video to highlight all of the students. So many applicants submitted information about their program, but only a few will be recognized formally. This slideshow contains photos of the winner, an honorable mention programs, but also includes other nominees to appreciate the breadth of commitment across campus to address intercultural peace and harmony, diversity and inclusion. Enjoy.
MARLA LOVE: What a great video. It was great to see all the things that have happened in the community in spite of the pandemic, in spite of social distancing, in spite of having to be virtual. The way in which groups have come together to really enrich this community is really fantastic to see. And I loved that slideshow. Thanks Nancy, and for those that helped to put that little slideshow together.
It's my pleasure to introduce our next speaker, who is a cheerleader for diversity and inclusion. And we are so thankful for his involvement at Cornell. I'd like to introduce Tom Jones, who was Trustee Emeritus, presidential counselor and Frank Rhodes exemplary Alumni Service Award recipient. In 1995, Mr. Jones established the James A. Perkins Prize for intercultural and interracial peace and harmony to promote the advancement of campus interracial understanding. And to honor past President James A. Perkins. Mr. Perkins and Mr. Jones had developed a strong personal relationship over the years. Mr. Jones came to Cornell University in 1965 at a time when the University, under the leadership of President Perkins was undertaking a successful effort to increase the enrollment of Black students. Mr. Jones was elected freshman class president and was a member of the Student Judicial Board and was a Student Government Activist before coming involved in the controversial takeover of Willard Straight Hall in 1969. After leaving Cornell, Mr. Jones eventually lead TIAA Cref for many years and I've mentioned was a Cornell trustee for many years. In 2019, Mr. Jones became a published author with the release of From Willard Straight to Wall Street, a memoir in which he tells a story as a campus revolutionary who participated in the straight occupation in 1969, and how it altered his course over the next 50 years. Mr. Jones is with us tonight and you'll get to meet him and see him. But we're now going to play his prerecorded message that he's prepared for tonight's event.
TOM JONES: My remarks today are a five-minute history lesson on race in America. As I see it. Please listen carefully because the next chapter in this story will be written by you.
Chapter 1 is the first 250 years in America. From 1619 when slaves first landed in Virginia to 1865 when the Civil War ended. I call this the era of chattel slavery. Chattel slavery meant that black people were afforded the same status as agricultural livestock, subject to being bought, sold, mortgaged, whipped, or any other degradation, their owners decided to inflict. It was illegal to teach slaves to read and write. Blacks were not American citizens, had no legal standing or rights in a court of law. No property rights to own any possessions, no human rights, and no family rights. It was routine for children to be sold away from their parents. This harsh era was as bleak as life could possibly be for human beings.
Chapter 2 is the 150 year period from the end of the Civil War in 1865 to the present day. I call this the era of civil rights. Blacks were emancipated from slavery and granted American citizenship and voting rights by constitutional amendment, but received no financial reparations for slavery and were not welcome in most of America. Most began their freedom journey with no property other than the rags in which they were clothed. Despite ongoing entrenched racial discrimination and ongoing violent anti-black terrorism. Personified by the 4,000 lynchings, which occurs between 1870 and 1950. Blacks have slowly achieved equal treatment under law. It is popular on many college campuses to say nothing has changed, but that is not true.
Today, millions of African Americans have been educated, including at elite colleges and universities.
Today, millions of African-Americans have lifted their families out of poverty, and some are counted amongst the wealthiest Americans.
Today, African Americans have achieved the pinnacle of every occupation and profession in America, including the presidency. This era is perhaps best described in words of Maya Angelou poem, And Still I Rise. Quote, "You may shoot me with your words. You may cut me with your eyes. You may kill me with your hatefulness. But still like air. I'll rise."
Chapter 3 is just now beginning. I think the central question will be whether America can succeed as a multi-racial and multicultural democracy. Global opponents such as China describe America as a nation in decline, citing racial conflict and inequality as key drivers of their thesis of decline. Even America's friends around the world watched in disbelief as the 2020 presidential election results were disputed by national Democratic and Republican political parties, which seemed to have lost the ability to agree even on basic facts regarding what is true or not true.
Most Americans were shocked to watch the January 6th violent assault on the Capitol Building, which had racial undertones, and visibility of Confederate flags and Nazi symbols.
It has been difficult historical periods like the present, when we most lead the best and brightest among us to step up and help us find our way.
Your participation in the activity is which led to your nomination for the Perkins Prize, testifies that you cared deeply about racial reconciliation and social harmony. I hope you will persevere and that your success includes making Cornell University an example of positive and constructive race relations to which all Americans look for guidance and inspiration. You are the people who will write this next chapter of race in America. Thank you.
NANCY MARTINSEN: Wow. Thank you, Mr. Jones for reminding us of the spirit of the Perkins Prize and for your contributions to help organizations and departments to continue the good work of bringing communities together to pursue harmony and connection.
I would now like to introduce Dr. Ryan Lombardi, who will be recognizing our next award recipients. Dr. Lombardi serves as the vice president for student and campus life at Cornell University. The division of Student and Campus Life provides a broad array of programs and services designed to support students and the campus community, including athletics and Physical Education. Office of the Dean of Students, Campus and Community Engagement, Cornell Health, Campus Life, Enterprise Services, Cornell Career Services, and the Office of the Vice President. The division is comprised of over 1,200 staff.
Dr. Lombardi received an undergraduate degree in Music Education from West Chester University and a master's degree in higher education administration from the University of Kansas. He completed a doctorate in higher education administration at North Carolina State University. Everybody, VP Ryan Lombardi.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thank you so much, Dr. Martinsen, and it's wonderful to be with everybody tonight live from the home office here in Ithaca, New York. I hope you all are doing well. I miss being in space with you and having the chance to be close to you on this joyous and celebratory occasion.
I want to just take a moment and thank Mr. Tom Jones for his remarks, of course tonight and his thoughts and his advice and wisdom, but most importantly for his commitment in his generosity to Cornell and his commitment to helping push Cornell to be a better version of itself. I've known Tom since I arrived at Cornell now nearly six years ago, I've known him to be always steadfast in his beliefs and also committed and willing to doing the work necessary to keep pushing all of us forward, to keep learning himself, and to build the relationships that are so important today and in the future. As we think about chapter 3 that Tom has challenged, just he's with us live tonight and he's not going to be giving any remarks, but I am told perhaps we can see him briefly on the screen and he could maybe wave to everybody so that we could thank him for being with us. So Tom, if you can turn on your video. There he is folks in the flesh, a true legend and a visionary at Cornell and someone that I admire and respect and I'm deeply grateful to for his role in shaping the trajectory of our institution.
TOM JONES: Thank you, Ryan.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Thank you, sir. Appreciate you being here tonight live to watch the event.
TOM JONES: It's a beautiful ceremony. So congratulations to your team for putting this together. Very impressive.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Great. Thank you very much.
All right. I do have the pleasure tonight, and I'm happy to recognize and award the James A. Perkins Prize for Interracial, Intercultural Peace and Harmony winner, along with the recognition of the honorable mentions for this award. And as we gather to recognize organizations and initiatives in individuals that have demonstrated the very best and bringing communities together, we are reminded of a difficult time in Cornell history. However, the Perkins Prize highlights the progress we have made yet, the need to continue to push forward towards greater equity and inclusion. And I want to pause for just a moment before I jump into the awarding of the honorable mention and finalists and acknowledge the extraordinary circumstances under which we live and I'm tired, I'm using those terms, the extraordinary circumstances. It's been a remarkably challenging year on so many fronts. This pandemic and the pandemic of systemic racism that have plagued our community this year and for many years. And how this has impacted our communities differentially and how hard it's been on so many of our students. And It's been difficult for us as the staff and student campus life not to be physically present with you, to support you. But we've tried desperately to be with you virtually in other spaces, to appreciate the efforts that you've put forward and to remain committed to being your allies and your advocates in all the true senses of the word. And I want to thank, in particular my colleagues, many of whom were tuning in tonight to this award ceremony. I feel very privileged to work with my outstanding colleagues in the Dean of Students Office. And I noticed if others, folks from across campus, it really is a privilege to serve Cornell and it's a privilege to serve all of us as the Vice President for student and campus life. Most importantly, like all of my colleagues, are honored and privileged to serve the students at Cornell University. Students you inspire us, you motivate us. We're in awe of you and we're honored to be a part of your educational journey. And that's what this is. It's an education, it's a growth process. And we hope that this has been a transformational experience for you and your time here. Now to move into the honoring of our recipients this evening for the Perkins Prize.
Each year, the Perkins Prize is awarded to a Cornell program, organization or event that has shown accomplishment in involving students to promote common values and shared community to enhance the abilities of students to work with, to live with, and to learn from individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, beliefs, identities, and cultural perspectives. We have so many deserving applicants for the Perkins Prize that the selection committees have annually chosen one or two organizations that deserve recognition as Perkins Prize honorable mention. Tonight we'll be honoring one organization with an honorable mention.
I'm pleased to announce that this year's honorable mention award goes to the Building Allyship Series. The Building Allyship Series was conceived of and developed by members of the graduate and professional student Diversity Council, otherwise known as the GPSDC. Of course, we always do that at Cornell. With support from the Graduate School Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement, led by Dr. Sarah Hernandez, brings together members of identity groups historically excluded from and under-represented in the academy. Members of the Cornell community that they have identified as strong allies and others seeking to develop skills for allyship, to collectively learn how to support each other as we work, live, and learn together. Each event centers specific identity groups to explore how allyship can mitigate the challenges that members experience in academia.
During the 2020 and 2021 academic year, event themes included dangers of performative allyship, combating anti-blackness, coming out for allyship with the LGBTQ plus community and understanding intersectionality to be better allies.
The GPSDC plans to continue the series indefinitely with at least four events during the 2021 and 2022 academic year, focusing on topics of anti-Asian discrimination and violence, indigenous land dispossession and settler colonialism, ability and disability and marginalization of international scholars' identity.
It is my pleasure to congratulate the Building Allyship Series. We will now hear a brief recorded video from this group.
VARIOUS: Hello, I am Marguerite Pacheco, I'm Kavya Krishnan and I'm Samantha Bosco and we are members of the Building Allyship board. We areso humbled to receive an honorable mention for the Perkins Prize for interracial intercultural Peace.
The Building Allyship Series was designed to empower people who wanted to change their behavior to be better critical allies to those who are less privileged. Access to this series extend from a Cornell graduate school out to other academic institutions and industry professionals who are invested in learning.
Our events this year we're focused on critical versus performative allyship, anti-blackness, homophobia and transphobia, and intersectionality through the lens of "Latinidad".
Panels included both members of these groups and scholars who study these issues, which made for robust, open and thoughtful conversations.
In each session, we explain what critical allyship is in this context and how a person works on different axes.
This gave people a deeper understanding of why they specifically had the power to change things and how that power could be used.
At the end of every session, we wanted people to walk away with concrete things they could do to be better allies to those around them.
And we're excited to continue this work next year as we dive into more topics.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Congratulations again to the Building Allyship series. Thank you for your leadership on campus and all of your efforts this year, we look forward to your continued work in the coming year and the topics that you've outlined that you'll be focusing on next year.
Now, the time we've all been waiting for the announcement of the Perkins Prize winner. This is very exciting. That's a dramatic pause I'm trying to do right now, if that wasn't obvious, I know they won't be calling me up to host the Academy Awards were the Oscars or the Emmys anytime soon.
But I am delighted to announce that this year's winner is Cornell Students for Black Lives, who have called us all into action over this past year. Cornell Students for Black Lives is a coalition of almost 300 student organizations on Cornell's campus committed to amplifying the many unique black voices on campus by promoting activism and education to combat implicit and explicit racism. C4BL, as they're affectionately known, were inspired by the Third World Liberation Front during the civil rights movement, which demanded that Universities acknowledge the underemphasized histories of black, Asian, Latinx, indigenous, and other communities of color. They formed a diverse coalition with social, cultural, and professional organizations to leverage their unique platforms and networks. Within the first two days, C4BL raised nearly $22 thousand, mostly from Cornell professors and parents. Then they continue to build power by partnering with the Cornell Black Alumni Association, CBAA, as we call it, could tap into Cornell Alumni's extensive network and financial capital. In just three weeks, over 1,100 community members donated, demonstrating the strength of our grassroots advocacy. Ultimately, a total of over $118,000 was raised with all proceeds going to local, state, and national 501C3 non-profits, that demand and advocate for justice for black lives. Since the summer fundraiser, Cornell Students for Black Lives has transformed to a black led organization that continues to educate on intersectional black issues. They've continued to partner with other Black activists organizations. As the Cornell abolitionist revolutionary society and black students united to push for the common goal of institutional anti-racist change. Accepting the prize on behalf of Cornell Students for Black Lives are some members of the executive board. And I believe we also have a recorded video of their acceptance. Congratulations C4BL.
ASHLEY BISHOP: Hi, I'm Ashley.
SHERELL FARMER: And I'm Sherell and we are both co-presidents of Cornell Students for Black Lives, also known as C4BL. Cornell Students for Black Lives is a coalition of over 280 student organizations working to support anti-racism initiatives on Cornell's campus. C4BL was founded this summer in response to several incidents of racist violence across the country against black people. We started the fundraiser, and raised over $100,000 in support of five organizations doing work to support black lives.
ASHLEY BISHOP: This semester-- In the fall semester, we changed into an educational platform to educate our coalition members on things such as microaggression and biases. And we actually launched a campaign at the start of the fall to let our coalition members know how to educate their members and lead an inclusive and equitable recruitment practices.
SHERELL FARMER: We also held a COVID-19 disparities workshop. In which we talked about the different ways that various communities and demographics have been impacted by COVID-19. For example, Black Americans have disproportionately died or been infected with COVID-19 relative to their white peers.
ASHLEY BISHOP: This semester, we also have a Coalition community discussion after recruitment has happened to have a kind of review of what happened in recruitment and how they can have more inclusive initiatives and what problems that they faced during recruitment that they can improve upon for next semester.
SHERELL FARMER: We're really excited to be receiving the Perkins Award. We think that we can use this funding to do something amazing for the community, such as hosting a program known as the state of Black America next fall.
ASHLEY BISHOP: Thank you.
RYAN LOMBARDI: Congratulations again to C4BL Cornell Students for Black lives very well, very, very much deserved. I get to turn this back over to Dean of Students, Marla Love. Phenomenal Dean of Students, Marla Love. But before I do, I just want to, again, thank Mr. Jones for his presence tonight and for his continued leadership. And I thought the quote that was used by Maya Angelou, the late great Maya Angelou, I had to I had the privilege of being in our company eight years in a row when I was at Duke University. She would speak to our freshmen class every fall and I was the host for her. And the quote of Still I Rise really resonated with me tonight and not for me personally. But what I want to say is throughout the challenges that we've seen in this past year to Cornell students. Still you rise. I see it day in and day out on our campus. My colleagues and I see it. And I just want to again express my gratitude, my appreciation, and my awe because still you rise. Thank you. Now over to you, Marla.
MARLA LOVE: Thanks boss. I appreciate it. This has been a really great evening. I continue to be energized by the things that happened in this community. I continue to be excited for where Cornell is headed in the way that our students are, are deeply involved and committed to our future, to what Cornell can be, to what Cornell still needs to improve on, and what Cornell's doing well. And also all the ways in which we which we work together to, to meet that goal. I appreciate all of the students who were nominated, all the organizations that were nominated, the students who have given timeless, more time, more heart, more efforts to their organization this year as we manage the pandemic and manage sort of organization leadership in a new sort of configuration. I look forward to a time that we're all back together on campus. Can't wait to see what you'll do, what you'll bring to this community. I hope that you know that there are many of us that are on this campus that continue. We want to support you, to help you, to help you see your vision, to move things forward, and to be partners with you. And so if you're in your living room like I am with the coffee or water or a beverage. Feel free to raise it in toast to all of our winners tonight and all of our nominees for the great things that they're bringing to Cornell. They're making us a richer, more diverse, more inclusive, more equitable place. Asking us to continue to ask the hard questions of ourselves as a community. And so I want to toast to you and say thank you and have a wonderful evening.
NANCY MARTINSEN: Thank you so much Dean Love for those lovely words. And I'll say, I want to do a shoutout to Building Allyship Series. Cornell Students for Black Lives. I'm so proud of you. Congratulations on those, the awards, yeah, everyone celebrate again for them. As like these, there are a big deal and we are so excited that you won them. Alright, as we are winding down for the night, we're going to end the program with a compilation of a few lingual modern videos. The lingual modern competition is co-sponsored by the Language Resource Center, the Office of the Vice Provost for International Affairs, and the Office of International Alumni Relations. For those of you who sing in another language and get inspired by this next video. And trust me, you will, please note that the 2021 competition will open up in fall, so start practicing now, I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did. And I did want to mention that these videos were created pre-pandemic. So, that's why they don't have masks on. Don't get them in trouble. Honestly. Thank you so much everyone for joining us. We hope you enjoyed the program and we hope you have a fantastic, wonderful night. Thank you again. Have a good one.
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Virtual event held May 6, 2021 to recognize the winners of the James A. Perkins Prize and three special Diversity and Inclusion awards given by Student and Campus Life (SCL).
The Perkins Prize was established by Trustee Emeritus Thomas W. Jones '69 to recognize James A. Perkins. Perkins was Cornell president during the 1969 Willard Straight Occupation of which Jones was a participant. The Perkins Prize is awarded to the program or organization making the most significant contribution to furthering the ideal of university community while respecting the values of racial and cultural diversity. A Cornell student organization was awarded the $5,000 prize to further support activities that promote interracial and intercultural respect, understanding, peace, and harmony on campus.
SCL awarded three Diversity and Inclusion awards: the Quiet Influence Award, Student Organization of the Year Award, and the Transformational Leadership Award. All awards honored students and or student organizations who have notably played a role in uplifting SCL’s diversity and inclusion values.